Elizabeth Arens

Document Type

Thesis, Senior

Publication Date

Spring 2014




Chicago, Community, renewal, Arens, schools, educational facilities, learning centers






Chicago, Illinois is a large city comprised of small neighborhoods. The City of Chicago is made up of 77 “Community Areas.” Many diverse neighborhoods are within each community area. Each neighborhood has its own identity that revolves around the churches, schools and community centers that serve the neighborhood. In each of these educational institutions, learning also exists on a larger social and cultural scale that is reflective of the distinct qualities of the neighborhood. The idea of a learning institution as the center of a neighborhood is formed at the time children first begin school. Much of their intellectual and social growth exists in conjunction with the setting of an elementary school. In the classroom they learn to read and write. On the playground they experience social interaction with other children from their neighborhood. In this way, children begin at an early age to associate the neighborhood school with their own development, both intellectually and socially. This past summer, the Chicago Board of Education voted to close 49 elementary schools in the Chicago Public School system. Schools were closed based on a process that evaluated the surrounding population of school-aged children and poverty rates, among other factors such as test scores and performance levels. If the identity of a neighborhood is traditionally represented in a learning institution such as a school, what happens when the facility that fosters such an identity closes its doors? A Chicago public elementary school was recently closed in the neighborhood of Andersonville, located 6.5 miles north of the central business district, which was originally a predominantly Swedish-American area. Since its establishment, the area has become more diverse and this is reflected in the housing stock that surrounds the proposed site. As the neighborhood evolves, so should the infrastructure that represents the identity of the neighborhood.

Additional Information

Thesis Advisors: Terrance Goode, Amber Bartosh, Robert Petrie

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

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